LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown challenged Republican Meg Whitman on Monday to take a stand on a November ballot initiative that would undermine California's landmark global warming law.
The former eBay CEO should publicly state her position on Proposition 23, Brown said at a news conference in which he blasted the initiative as threatening California's environment and economy.
Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., Texas-based oil companies that have operations in California, are the primary backers of Proposition 23, which seeks to suspend a 2006 law intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide over the next decade. Some business groups have said it will impose steep costs on industry and drive energy prices higher for consumers.
The ballot initiative would delay the regulations until California's unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent and stays there for four consecutive quarters—something that has happened just three times during the last three decades.
Whitman previously said the law, referred to as AB32, "kills jobs in certain industries." If elected, the Republican candidate said she would enact a one-year moratorium to assess its effect on the state's economy.
Whitman said she would take a position on Proposition 23 and all the other measures on the November ballot on Friday.
"I care a lot about the environment in California; I think every Californian does," Whitman told reporters Monday after a campaign event at a printer services company in Sacramento. "But I also think it's very important to have a balance between the needs of the environment and the needs of jobs and people."
Brown, speaking at a solar power business in Los Angeles, argued that AB32 has helped create green-energy businesses and that suspending it would harm California's economy.
He urged Whitman to speak out on Proposition 23, which he termed a "noxious" effort by oil companies to eliminate AB32.
"They don't give a damn about California. They care about their pocket, and Meg Whitman seems to be going along with that," Brown said. "Now, I assume she'll probably join my position here. But the quicker and the clearer, the better."
A one-year moratorium would be a "gimmick," Brown added.
"If she's for it, say so. If she wants to stop AB32, let's here
why and for how long," he said.
Whitman said that while she wants California to compete for green jobs, they make up only about 3 percent of the state's economy right now—not enough to jeopardize other business interests through excessive regulation. When asked Monday what it might take to lift such a moratorium after one year, she said it could mean delaying implementing some of the regulations in AB32 "so we don't drive other jobs out."
"I want to be smart and green," she said.
Whitman told reporters on Aug. 20 that she was studying
Proposition 23 and would take a position soon.
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